Saturday, August 16, 2014

Emily's Birth Story {Part 3}

The last part of the exciting trilogy...  ;)  {Read Part 1 here & Part 2 here}

Shep came back into the room {he'd stepped away to get something to eat} and told me about the woman at the coffee stand who simply couldn't believe that we didn't know the gender of our baby.  Apparently she didn't think people waited to find out these days and was super excited for us, even though she didn't even know us!  She offered Shep free coffee the next time he came back.

After the overnight lull in energy, and having my water ruptured, we began getting excited again ourselves. Our baby would be here soon!  At this point, we started texting and calling a few close family members and friends to let them know that baby was going to make an appearance shortly!  I remember getting a sweet message from a friend wishing me luck at around 8am and responding that it would be "any hour now!".  He replied "hope it's minutes not hours!".  Shep told his parents to expect the baby before noon.  I don't think I'm spoiling any endings when I say that they were both completely wrong.  ;)

Once I was completely dilated, Dr. R instructed me on how to begin pushing and I started.  During the first push, the baby's heart rate dropped a bit.  I knew something was off when I saw Dr. R's reaction to the monitor.  After a second or so the heart rate bounced back to normal and Dr. R assured me that everything looked good with the baby, but suggested we wait a few minutes before pushing again just to make sure the baby recuperated.  And just for good measure, they wanted me to breathe into an oxygen mask between pushes, to ensure that the baby was getting enough O2 during the process. It was a bit scary to see the Dr's expression upon that first push, but our childbirth instructor had mentioned the possibility of this happening during labor, which helped keep me from panicking while it was happening.

I was pushing, and I thought I was doing so correctly based on how the Dr. reacted to each push, but it was really hard to take a deep breath in before each push as the doctor had instructed because I kept getting a sharp pain near my left rib that was prohibiting me from filling my lungs with air upon inhaling.  The doctor tried massaging the area, thinking perhaps the baby's foot or something was jabbing me.  It didn't help, but we pressed on.  I had pushed for maybe 20-30 minutes when, as my luck would have it, the epidural wore off at the exact time that the Pitocin {which I was administered in order to help move things along more quickly, just as our childbirth instructor has mentioned would be the case} kicked in at full force.  Needless to say, I saw stars.  Actually, I didn't see or feel anything except P-A-I-N.  I honestly don't remember much, except that I started crying and asking them to turn it off.  I physically could not continue pushing because the pain in my abdomen was so bad that my entire body tensed up and I couldn't relax in order to control my muscles enough to work on pushing the baby out.  After what seemed like an eternity, the anesthesiologist finally arrived and re-administered my epidural.  I was instructed to rest for a bit to give the epidural time to calm things down, so we took a break from pushing and went back to waiting.  I actually don't know the exact time frame, but I think I rested for about an hour.

Once the epidural was working again, we were ready to once again begin pushing!  The time was 12:09 pm.  Dr. R and the resident were at the foot of the bed, Shep was to my left handing me the oxygen mask, the nurse was tasked with holding my left leg and Annette our doula was holding my right leg.  The nurse was also going back and forth to the monitors to ensure everything looked good.  My left leg was soooo heavy that I couldn't lift it myself, and I remember getting so annoyed at the nurse because she wasn't getting back to the bed in time to help lift my leg during each set of pushes.  It's funny the things that stand out in our memories.

The team was cheering me on and the doctor assured me that I was doing great pushing.  An hour passed.  I kept pushing.  I was making progress.  Dr. R announced that she saw dark hair and asked whether I wanted to touch the baby's head or see it in a mirror.  The answer was an immediate "no thanks!", which she chuckled at.  Another hour passed.  I was still pushing and getting at least 2 really good pushes from each set, if not 3.  The baby was moving down the birth canal and I was so excited to meet him or her.  I kept pushing, and the way everyone was cheering me on, I expected to hear the baby's cry any minute.  Instead, sometime around 2:30 pm, Dr. R explained that my sacrum was shaped like a hockey stick, which was prohibiting the baby from being able to pass freely through the opening.  While the doctor was assisting with stretching the area as much as she could without risking a fractured tailbone and the baby was negotiating the tricky shape as best as possible, the baby's head was not passing through because the opening was not as round as it should be -- my sacrum was jutting out.  The baby was coming down with each of my pushes, but then moving back up a little bit between pushes because the head was not clearing the opening completely.

This all sounded a little confusing to me.  If I was making good progress and pushing well, I thought I just needed more time.  I looked at the clock and knew that they had to allow me at least 3 hours of pushing before recommending a c-section, which meant I still had more time.  Annette chimed in to correct me by saying that I actually was allowed 5 hours of pushing if I wanted, but the doctor didn't think it would help and was worried that I was exhausting myself.  I didn't feel exhausted though!  I wanted to keep on pushing so I could meet my baby!!!  I asked what the options were and the doctor explained that she was going to try to assist with the baby's delivery through the use of a vacuum, but that she was only going to give me 3 pushes to get the baby out before they were going to do an emergency cesarean section.  I think I stopped breathing.  Tears started flowing down my face.  The doctor continued to explain that they were going to prep an operating room with a double set-up, so that if the vacuum didn't work I'd be ready for an immediate c-section.  I cried and asked for more time pushing.  I didn't want a c-section.... I was petrified of one.  I asked what the chances were of the vacuum being successful and she advised that it was 50/50.  I cried some more, knowing that I don't have good luck, and asked to push some more.  The doctor explained that I needed to conserve my energy for those 3 final pushes, and left to get ready for the OR.

I felt like a failure.  It was the most important moment of my life to date, and I wasn't accomplishing what I
was supposed to.  I didn't understand why everything was blowing off course so quickly.  I looked at Shep, who looked back at me.  He looked nervous, which made me feel even worse.  I cried that I'd screwed everything up by asking for the epidural, which caused the staff to administer Pitocin.  This is exactly what our childbirth instructor warned us about.  Annette was so sweet and reassured me that I didn't screw up, and that I needed the epidural due to my intense and clustered contractions, and that medical interventions were available for situations like this.... when they are needed.  Shep held my hand and tried to reassure me as well.

The anesthesiologist came back into the room to adjust the epidural to be a bit stronger and cover more area so I was ready for the c-section if needed.  Nurses came in and out of the room.  Everyone was fluttering around, while I just laid there, scared. Shep was given scrubs and a mask to wear, and a cap was placed on my head. The staff wheeled my bed out of the delivery room, down the hall, and into an operating room.

There were a lot of people in the OR {Shep later told me he counted 18 at one point including scrub nurses, assistant nurses, three doctors, residents, the anesthesiologist team, and various other personnel!} and the lights were so bright.  It was really cold.  Everyone was really friendly and the various doctors and nurses all introduced themselves to me behind surgical masks while I laid on the bed staring up at the lights, crying silently.  One of the doctors assisting Dr. R saw how upset I was and gave me the kindest pep talk.  I don't even remember her name or exactly what she said, except that I needed to stay calm and conserve my energy for pushing.  Her voice was so confident but gentle, and she held my hand while she told me that she had faith in me.  Her eyes peeking out over her surgical mask were so warm.  I looked back at Shep, and his eyes peeking out over his mask, but didn't know what to say.  He was holding my left hand and I was hanging on to him with every bit of hope I had.  I tried to tune out all the other people in the room in order to relax and focus, but I couldn't.  They had two teams of staff prepped and ready to go: one for the vacuum procedure and one for the C-Section.  Our little baby was going to have quite the audience when he or she arrived!  At one point, Dr. R asked to no one in particular, "Can we get a bigger room?" to which someone replied, "This is the biggest one there is."  Even though the room was very crowded, it gave us some comfort that so many medical professionals were all there ready to help bring our baby into the world.

I couldn't feel my legs at all.  The epidural dosage I was given was so high {in the event I needed the C-section} that I couldn't move any of my lower body.  I felt woozy.  I remember thinking that there was no way I'd be able to push the baby out without feeling anything in my lower body, let alone in only 3 pushes.  I quietly continued crying, while resigning myself to the C-section that was now practically inevitable in my mind.  Dr. R instructed me to push, and I tried with all my might.  I couldn't feel a thing, so looked to her face for some clue as to whether I actually was pushing correctly or whether the vacuum was helping to hold the baby in place between my pushes, but above her surgical mask I saw eyes that gave me no information whatsoever.  I pushed again.  At least I thought I was pushing... I couldn't feel anything!  2 pushes down, 1 to go.  Dr. R said, "Almost more big push!"  This baby did not want to come out easily it seemed.  My mind raced.  In a matter of seconds, I thought, they will be cutting me open to remove the baby via C-section.  This is not the way in which I wanted to meet my baby.  While my first two contractions came fairly quickly, the last one seemed to take forever.  I had to wait to push for the contraction to come, so we had a brief "time out".  Shep said everyone was watching the monitor like it was the last play of a tied Superbowl game.  Eighteen sets of eyes glued to the monitor! The final contraction finally came... I tried as hard as I could and while I was pushing I saw what looked like a baby in the doctor's hands at the end of the bed.  Could that be my baby?  Or was I hallucinating?

"It's a girl!", Shep announced!  "It is???" I replied, tears streaming down my face.  "Is she okay?"  For some reason I didn't think I heard her cry, but the doctors assured me that she was perfect.  {Shep told me she cried a little later.}  Shep cut the umbilical cord and they brought our little baby girl over to the side of the room for her APGAR tests and footprints and Shep followed.  39 weeks of being pregnant and 29-ish hours after realizing I was having my first contraction, she was finally here.  So perfect and worth every minute of the wait.

I could not believe I did it!! I escaped an emergency C-section by the skin of my teeth.  While the nurses checked and measured my baby girl, Shep looked on adoringly at her taking her first photographs, and I laid on my bed, catching glimpses as best I could of the newest love in my life.  Seeing the smile on Shep's face as he watched over our baby girl getting cleaned up was enough to make my heart soar.

I was still pretty numb from the large dose of the epidural, so much so that my arms and chest felt a bit weak. They also had me on a narrow birthing board so I was nervous to hold our baby right away for fear that I might drop her!  So, Shep held her first, standing beside me, and showed her to me.  She was absolutely beautiful.

Suddenly, we were a family of three, and I knew my new life would never be the same.  I was a mother now.


  1. Wow, What an amazing birth story!!

  2. Dear S&N, I waited to read this as I knew it would be a moving story. I'm wiping the tears away as I type this!
    A beautifully told summary of your life changing event. Em is a miracle and her entrance to this life is amazing.


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